Julio César Chávez Jr

Las imágenes del boxeador mexicano Julio César Chávez Jr

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., right, lands a punch against Sergio Martinez during the WBC middleweight title fight, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in Las Vegas. Martinez won by unanimous decision. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Boxing Judge Adalaide Byrd Has A History Of Unpredictable Results

After Saturday night's megafight between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez came to an end, judge Adalaide Byrde found herself at the center of controversy after scoring the fight 118–110 in favor of Alvarez and leading to the split decision at T-Mobile Arena.

According to her scorecard, Golovkin only won the fourth and seventh round. Many seemed to disagree and believed that Golovkin won a majority of the fight after waking up in the third round.

Here's how she scored the fight:

Round 1: 10–9 to Alvarez

Round 2: 10– to Alvarez (20–18 Canelo)

Round 3: 10–9 to Alvarez (30–27 Canelo)

Round 4: 10–9 to Golovkin (39–37 Canelo)

Round 5: 10–9 to Alvarez (49–46 Canelo)

Round 6: 10–9 to Alvarez (59–55 Canelo)

Round 7: 10–9 to Golovkin (68–65 Canelo)

Round 8: 10–9 to Alvarez (78–74 Canelo)

Round 9: 10–9 to Alvarez (88–83 Canelo)

Round 10: 10–9 to Alvarez (98–92 Canelo)

Round 11: 10–9 to Alvarez (109–101 Canelo)

Round 12: 10–9 to Alvarez (118–110 Canelo)

According to Bryan Armen Graham of The Guardian, Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett defended Byrd after he controversial decision.

"That's the life of a judge," Bennett said. "She had a bad night in a big fight. She saw the fight in a different way."

Byrd has a history among those in the boxing circles. She scored Canelo Alvarez's one-sided victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. with a 120–108 card. In Alvarez's sixth round knockout of Amir Khan, she had scored it 48–47 in favor of Khan before he went down.

In November, Top Rank vice president of Boxing Operations Carl Moretti told BoxingScene.com that the promoters asked the Nevada Athletic Commission that she not serve as one of the judges for the Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Nicholas Walters fight but they did not get their wish granted.

“We respectfully requested that Adalaide Byrd not be assigned to this fight,” Moretti said. “From there it went on to a conversation [with NSAC executive director Bob Bennett] about how she is a good judge. Some judges can have good nights and can have bad nights. But when she has bad nights, she seems to be too far away from the score. Bob defended her left and right. He didn’t wanna listen to our objection.”

He threw some shade on Twitter after the Golovkin and Alvarez split decision:

She has also judged MMA since 2006 and was at the heart of the controversial Lenard Garcia decision over Nan Phan in the Ultimate Fighter 12 finale in 2010. She scored it 29–28 in favor of Garcia despite many believing Phan won.

Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez Draw In Middleweight Title Fight After 12 Rounds

Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez drew Saturday night's highly anticipated middleweight boxing match after 12 rounds at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The judges had it at 118-110 for Alvarez, 115-113 for Golovkin and then 114-114 It for the split draw.

Golovkin is now 37-0-1 with 33 knockouts. Alvarez is now 49–1–2 with the only loss coming against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The draw marks Golovkin's 19th title defense, which puts him just one shy of the all-time division record that is held by Bernard Hopkins. The Kazakhstan native holds onto three of the four major middleweight title belts.

Before Saturday's match, GGG had won 23 consecutive fights by either knockout or RTD.? Alvarez had won seven straight fights after his loss to Mayweather. Canelo’s most recent fight was an unanimous decision victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in which Canelo won every round. This was his first career fight at 160 pounds.?

Golovkin had been waiting for the fight for years but organizers had been dismissive of putting him and Alvarez in the ring together until the time was right. On Saturday night, it was worth the wait.

Catch up on our round-by-round analysis of the fight with our live blog.

Watch: Gennady Golovkin Walkout for Fight Against Canelo Alvarez

Gennady Golovkin was the first to take the ring for his middleweight title fight against Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.

He came out to "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes.

You can watch Canelo's walkout here.

Golovkin, the favorite in the fight, is defending his middleweight title for the 19th time. GGG holds the IBO, IBF, WBA and WBC middleweight world championships. Prior to his most recent fight against Daniel Jacobs, which he won by decision, GGG had won 23 consecutive fights by either knockout or RTD.

Alvarez has won seven straight fights after his lone career loss to Floyd Mayweather. Canelo’s last fight was an unanimous decision victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in which Canelo won every round. This is his first career fight at 160 pounds.

You can follow along with all of Saturday’s action on SI.com’s live blog.

Watch: Canelo Alvarez's Walkout For Fight vs. Gennady Golovkin

Canelo Alvarez took to the ring at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night to face Gennady Golovkin in the main event with all of Golovkin's unified middleweight titles.

Alvarez, 27, has a 49–1–1 record with 34 knockouts. His only loss came against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Golovkin, the favorite in the fight, is defending his middleweight title for the 19th time. GGG holds the IBO, IBF, WBA and WBC middleweight world championships. Prior to his most recent fight against Daniel Jacobs, which he won by decision, GGG had won 23 consecutive fights by either knockout or RTD. Alvarez has won seven straight fights after his loss to Mayweather. Canelo’s last fight was an unanimous decision victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in which Canelo won every round. This is his first career fight at 160 pounds.

Watch Alvarez's walkout with a Mexican flag:

Saturday night's match has been highly anticipated for years and looks to be a crowning moment for boxing's next signature star.

You can follow along with all of Saturday’s action on SI.com’s live blog.

GGG-Canelo: Tale of the Tape

Gennady "GGG" Golovkin and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez will face off in a middleweight title fight Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

This will be the 19th time GGG defends his middleweight title, and he comes in as the favorite. He is coming into this fight after the first 12-round bout of his career, in which he defeated Daniel Jacobs to become the unified IBO, IBF, WBA, WBC middleweight world champion. Before that decision, Golovkin had either earned a knockout or forced a RTD in 23 consecutive fights. The undefeated champion is known for his power and his ability to do heavy damage with his jab.

Against Jacobs, 356 of Golovkin's 615 punches were jabs, and he connected on 29.5 percent of them, according to Compubox. In the fourth and fifth rounds he was significantly more aggressive than his opponent, throwing 65 more punches than Jacobs over those six minutes. GGG landed 30 more punches during that stretch, including 30 jabs compared to seven from Jacobs. Despite never going the distance in a title fight before, Golovkin landed 31-of-67 shots in the final round, with 23 of those being power punches.

Alvarez on the other hand will be more reliant on his defense and counter-punching to get him through the fight. Although Canelo has shown flashes of being a brawler and just attacking his opponent, he has looked to outbox his competition in his most recent fights and use his timing to make his power more impactful.

In his most recent match against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Canelo showed off his endurance by not taking a seat in between rounds during the 12-round shutout decision. Canelo's accuracy dipped during the final round, but he was just as aggressive as he was from the begging of the bout.

Golovkin Alvarez Record 37-0 (33 KOs) 49-1-1 (34 KOs) Age 35 27 Weight 160 lbs. 160 lbs. Height 5'10.5" 5'9" Reach 70 inches 70.5 inches Stance Orthodox Orthodox Hometown Karaganda, Kazahkstan Guadalajara, Mexico Odds -145 +125

Expect plenty of heavy-hitting shots from both fighters from start to finish. While Golovkin will most likely try to line Canelo up and allow his power to get the challenger off his rhythm, Canelo will probably try to pick his spots and time GGG's attacks to take advantage with counters.

Canelo-GGG Odds: Who Is the Favorite in This Middleweight Title Fight?

Gennady "GGG" Golovkin is favored in his middleweight title fight against Saul "Canelo" Alvarez on Sept. 16.

According to oddsshark.com, GGG has -151 odds going into the fight while Alvarez is at +131.

When it comes to the prop bets concerning how the fight will be won, Golovkin is at +160 to land a knockout, +275 to win by decision and +600 to win unanimously. Canelo on the other hand is at +500 to win by knockout, +205 to win by decision and +400 to win unanimously.

In his last fight, GGG defeated Daniel Jacobs by decision to get the WBA Middleweight Title, to go along with the IBO, IBF and WBC titles that he already held. Prior to that, Golovkin had won 23 consecutive fight by knockout or RTD.

Canelo's last fight was a shutout decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Before that bout, Alvarez defeated Amir Khan and Liam Smith by knockout.

Gennady Golovkin a Solid Betting Favorite to Beat Canelo Alvarez

The real super fight of the year will take place this Saturday night when undefeated middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0) puts his title belts on the line against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-1) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The 35-year-old Golovkin is listed as a -145 betting favorite (wager $145 to win $100) at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com with the 27-year-old Alvarez a +115 underdog (bet $100 to win $115).

Besides the age difference, Canelo does not seem to have much working in his favor as he moves up from light middleweight to challenge Golovkin, who is slightly bigger and has dominated arguably better competition lately heading into this blockbuster matchup.

In addition, GGG has scored 33 knockouts among his 37 wins, although he is coming off a unanimous decision victory against Daniel Jacobs in his last fight on March 18.

Canelo is riding a seven-bout winning streak since suffering the lone loss of his career to Floyd Mayweather nearly four years ago to the day in Vegas. He has earned four wins by knockout over that stretch while also taking a split decision versus Erislandy Lara and two UD victories against Miguel Cotto and most recently Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in his last fight on May 6.

Chavez was beaten soundly by Canelo over 12 rounds even though he had a significant size advantage over his fellow Mexican fighter.

Much like the Mayweather-Conor McGregor bout three weeks ago, bettors will have plenty of other wagering options on Golovkin-Alvarez. Golovkin by KO, TKO or DQ is the favored method of victory outcome at +160 followed closely by Alvarez by Decision or Technical Decision at +190.

The thinking there obviously is that either GGG will add another knockout, or Alvarez will take him the distance and steal a decision.

That said, there looks to be tremendous value on GGG to win by Decision or Technical Decision at +275. The same can be said about Alvarez by KO, TKO or DQ at +550, although that does seem to be the most unlikely scenario. The odds of a Draw or Technical Draw might also appeal to those looking for a longshot at odds of +1600.

What Is Canelo Alvarez's Net Worth?

Canelo Alvarez was the 43rd highest-paid athlete in the world according to Forbes as of June 7, with $28.5 million in earnings.

In his last fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Canelo made more than $20 million, according to Forbes.

According to multiple sites, Alvarez's net worth however is just $4.5 million.

On Saturday, Alvarez faces Gennady Golovkin in a middleweight title fight.

You can follow the fight on SI.com's live blog.

Canelo Alvarez Stopping Traffic Amidst Preparation for GGG Clash

SAN DIEGO – A day in camp with Canelo Alvarez starts just before dawn, in a gravel parking lot about 25 miles north of downtown here. It’s 5:20 a.m. on July 31, roughly six weeks before Alvarez meets undefeated middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in Las Vegas.

A gray van filled with production types from Golden Boy Promotions idles in the parking lot, waiting for Alvarez to begin his morning run. One fiddles with the remote for a camera drone.

5:48 a.m.: A cameraman scrambles out of the van and into the street. A black Escalade drives by, slowly, with its hazard lights on. Then Alvarez jogs past, moving already at a brisk pace.

None of the commuters that whiz by seem to notice what they’re witnessing. They don’t know they’re seeing one of the best boxers in the world and one of the most popular athletes in Mexico train for the most important fight of his life. All they know is he’s slowing their drive to work. A car honks. Another car honks. A third car honks. Alvarez just continues jogging, while the crew from Golden Boy zigs and zags through traffic, stopping to film him where they can, controlling the drone that buzzes overhead.

Alvarez zooms past apple orchards, lime groves and dozens of ranches with “no trespassing” signs. He doesn’t look even a little tired.

6:39 a.m.: His run is over. He heads back inside his rental house, to rest and eat.

The last time the public saw Alvarez it was inside a boxing ring, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, after his dominant victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a bout that wasn’t supposed to be competitive and lived down to its advanced billing. That’s when Alvarez summoned Golovkin into the ring and told Golovkin they would fight next. When it became clear that the best fight that could be made in boxing had in fact finally been made after two years of challenges lobbed back and forth, the tension in the ring rose, to a higher level than it had reached during the actual fight.

For years, Alvarez has been described as the next great Mexican boxing champion. But his resume, while impressive—with victories over Shane Mosley, Erislandy Lara, James Kirkland, Miguel Cotto and Amir Khan; and only one loss, against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2013—lacks the career-defining triumph a win over Golovkin would provide. He’s also only 27 years old. Beat Golovkin, and Alvarez could reign over boxing for the next 10 years. Not that Alvarez would say any of this. He’s as reserved as Mayweather is flamboyant. He says nothing as he enters the house, nodding to the occupants inside.

12 p.m.: The gym where Alvarez trains is located north of San Diego. It’s tucked into the back of an office park, near a coffee shop and various corporate office spaces. The glass on the front door is tinted. The gym could double as a Game of Thrones setting. It has no name.

With the Golovkin fight six weeks away, Alvarez has a busy schedule on this Monday. He’s giving what he says is his final pre-fight sit-down interview to Sports Illustrated. He’s also partaking in a photo shoot for Hennessy. He also has to train.

Boxes of Henny are stacked in the back of the gym, which strikes visitors as a newer facility—the rare boxing training center that doesn’t smell too bad. Posters of Alvarez inflicting damage on his opponents hang from the wall. Pictures that say critique my record if you want to, I’m still 49-1-1 with 34 knockouts; feel free to try your luck inside the ring.

One of his trainers, Eddy Reynoso, stands between heavy bags near the gym’s entrance. He says Alvarez is a different fighter than the one Mayweather made look slow in 2013. He says Alvarez learned from that experience, as evidenced by four knockouts in the seven bouts since. “Don’t forget this will be his 14th year as a professional,” Reynoso says in Spanish, to an interpreter. “He has a long period of fighting. With great quality.”

1:21 p.m.: Alvarez’s marketing team reviews the photo shoot with the Hennessy folks. Everyone is surrounded by Alvarez’s logo, an interlocked C and A. Eddy’s father, fellow trainer Jose (Chepo) Reynoso, stands on the ring apron. Alvarez has yet to arrive but still dominates the conversation.

Chepo details his writing process. That’s no typo. While in camp, when not training Alvarez to punish other boxers, he writes songs, mostly ballads, that he’ll sing to pass the time. He says he has written more than 50 total melodies, including two about Alvarez the boxer. One is titled “Canelo’s Story”; the other is “The New Kings.” (This is where a writer would place a sample lyric, but none could be found online.)

“Boxing needs a fight like this,” Chepo is saying. He means boxing needs a fight with two elite actual boxers, not one like Mayweather against UFC star Conor McGregor, which would take place on Aug. 26 in the same arena as Canelo-GGG. Their bout promises all the action, along with blood and perhaps even a knockout, with none of the spectacle that trailed Mayweather-McGregor like a really profitable cloud. “This fight will bring credibility back to the sport,” Chepo says.

He continues, “This is a new era, and not just a new era, but Canelo’s era.”

2:25 p.m.: Alvarez arrives in a black Mercedes G-Wagon that he parks right in front of the gym’s door. What champion must bother with a parking space? Chepo vacates the ring apron and Alvarez sits down, grabbing hold of a gold sharpie in his right hand. He will use it to sign bottle after bottle of cognac.

Photographers scuttle around, lights flashing, as Alvarez answers questions. He says his bout with Golovkin is “the fight that boxing needs” and a “fight that will bring boxing back to where it belongs.” He says he used to watch Sugar Ray Leonard highlights that had been burned onto a CD given to him by his trainers. He thinks he fights like Leonard fought—smartly, moving forward but looking more so to counter-punch. He says his fight with Golovkin will recall Leonard’s welterweight bouts with Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran. Classics.

Alvarez says he plans to fight until age 35, at least. If that happens, he’ll have spent more than 20 years inside of boxing rings, training for fights, whittling the evening hours away listening to Chepo sing. “We’re going to see how my body feels,” he says.

2:45 p.m.: The gym falls silent as Nas walks in. Yes, that Nas, the hip-hop legend. He leans back on the ropes while Chepo wraps Alvarez’s hands.

“Legends,” someone says from near the heavy bags.

?Nas wears black shorts and white Jordans. A gold chain hangs around his neck. Someone hands him a cup of cognac, and he sips from the plastic cup like a practiced pro. One of the Hennessy employees tells the boxer’s entourage not to touch the bottle the rapper is drinking from. “That’s for Nas only,” the employee says, more sternly than necessary.

Someone asks Nas if he’s into boxing. He notes that he saw Mayweather top Alvarez four years ago, in Las Vegas, on his 40th birthday. (Side note: Nas is 40! He’s actually 43. That’ll make anyone feel old.)

Music begins to play over the gym’s speakers. It’s If I Ruled The World, a Nas hit. One of the people Nas arrived with asks that the music be changed to jazz. The boxing people throw on Miles Davis. The music lightens the mood, as Nas sips cognac and Alvarez jumps rope in the ring and everyone else takes pictures.

“Smart fighter,” Nas says, when asked directly about Alvarez. “Fast. Effective. He’s one of the greats.”

And what will his fight with Golovkin do for boxing? “Boxing’s back,” Nas says. “And this just proves it. Everyone is excited for this fight. It’s the talk of the town. So it’s big for the sport.”

3:45 p.m.: The Nas contingent leaves out the glass doors with tinted windows. Alvarez resumes training, dancing to salsa music to sharpen his footwork, weaving around and under various ropes set up inside the ring. Sometimes, the younger Reynoso hits him with rubber sticks as he moves. It’s like they’re trying to simulate a fighter with Golovkin’s reach.

Alvarez follows that with heavy punches thrown toward a pad held by the younger Reynoso. He grunts louder with each subsequent punch, throwing up to 20 in a row. Ugh. Ugh! UGH! UGH-UGH!

Chepo begins to dance, throwing in some pelvic thrusts for both no reason and good measure. Alvarez turns around and joins him. Golovkin may be favored and Alvarez may be expected to lose. But on this day, he looks ready for the thunder puncher, has a new fan in Nas and has angered only a few morning commuters who didn’t know they missed history in action.

Read in Spanish

When is Canelo vs. GGG?

The megafight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor may have received more attention, but the upcoming bout between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin is the best matchup of the summer.

The fight will be held on Saturday, September 16 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The fight is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET.

Golovkin is the unfederated IBF, IBO, WBA and WBC world champion and will face Alvarez, who is 49–1–1 (34 KOs) in his career.

Alvarez won a shutout decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in May.

The fight will be available for purchase via pay-per-view on HBO.

When is Gennady Golovkin vs Canelo Alvarez?

Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez will put on arguably the best fight of the summer and that includes the mayhem that came from the Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor.

Golovkin is the unfederated IBF, IBO, WBA and WBC world champion and will face Alvarez, who is 49–1–1 (34 KOs) in his career. The fight will be held on Saturday, September 16 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Alvarez won a shutout decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in May. Golovkin has defended his title 18 times and most recently beat Daniel Jacobs in a tight decision in March.

The fight will be available for purchase on pay-per-view by HBO.

FILE - In this May 6, 2017 file photo, Mexican boxers Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., compete in their catch weight boxing match, in Las Vegas. Alvarez will face Gennady Golovkin in a long-awaited match, in Las Vegas on Sept. 16. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken, File)

Saúl 'Canelo' Álvarez en la pelea contra Julio César Chávez Jr. / Foto: AP

Saúl 'Canelo' Álvarez en la pelea contra Julio César Chávez Jr. / Foto: AP

Julio César Chávez y Julio César Chávez Jr. / Foto: AP

Julio César Chávez Jr. contra Saúl 'Canelo' Álvarez. / Foto: AP

Julio César Chávez Jr. contra Saúl 'Canelo' Álvarez. / Foto: AP

Boxing is dead? Not hardly, and the coming months will be proof

Maybe you loved boxing in the 1960s, 70s, ‘80s or 90s, from Muhammad Ali to Mike Tyson, with the golden age of welterweights sandwiched in between. Maybe you got sick of all the sanctioning bodies, the alphabet soup of title belts, the unwatchable match-ups, the stars who cared more about their record than the product, the greedy promoters, the mainstream media that lost interest, the heavyweights who turned to football or the $70 you had to plunk down for garbage on Pay-Pay-View. (Even as recently as this month, when Canelo Alvarez throttled Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in what was less of a bout and more of an announcement for Alvarez’s next fight.) This was #boxing more or less.

I get it. When I tell people in sports who don’t watch boxing–or who once watched boxing–that it’s my favorite sport to cover, they always ask the same question.

Why?

That’s easy. It’s not the access, although the access is great, consistently at a level far beyond what’s possible in other sports. It’s not the clicks, either, because there aren’t as many as there used to be. And it’s definitely not the feedback, which usually consists of people in boxing lamenting how great the coverage at Sports Illustrated used to be. (For the record, I agree with that. SI covered boxing over the years as well as any single outlet covered anything. It’s a major reason I went into sports journalism.)

No, boxing is the best sport to cover because of the stories. Because every fighter has one and because every major bout takes the backgrounds of those boxers and some manufactured animosity and more hype than is healthy and creates these major events that feel like Super Bowls and unfold like professional wrestling storylines, except the fights in the ring are real. There’s nothing like that in sports.

Which brings me to 2017 and the state of modern boxing, a sport that is as healthy and as promising and as intriguing as it has been in quite a while, since at least Manny Pacquiao entered his prime in 2008 or so and the world of sports clamored for him to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Buyer beware, it turned out.) If you loved boxing before, you might want to pay attention for the next seven months. Or at least give the sport another chance.

Start with Saturday. That’s when touted welterweight prospect Errol Spence Jr., he of the 21-0 record and 18 pro knockouts, meets Kell Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) in Sheffield, England, for the IBF welterweight title on Showtime. Brook’s only loss came against Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, arguably the top pound-for-pound boxer in the world.

I agree with those who see Spence as one of boxing’s stars-in-waiting, a potential heir to the Mayweather throne. He’s rangy and strong, moves with precision, is rarely off balance and utilizes a style he describes as “passive aggressive,” meaning he’ll knock out an opponent if it’s there, but he’s also fine with countering and moving. It’s that combination of skills that birthed the legends of his sparring sessions, when he stopped a world champion (and world champion knucklehead) in Adrien Broner (confirmed) and blackened Mayweather’s eye (even Spence won’t cop to that one).

This a step-up fight for Spence, against an elite boxer, in Brook’s hometown. Spence answered the phone there on Wednesday morning, and we spent most of 15 minutes discussing not boxing’s future, as has been the norm since Mayweather and Pacquiao retired (and unretired, for Pacquiao; and said they would unretire, with Mayweather), but it’s present.

Spence is not just a boxer. He loves to watch boxing. Last weekend, he saw junior welterweight Terence Crawford, an elite, top-five P4P champion, stop Felix Diaz on HBO to improve to 31-0. On that undercard, Ray Beltran hit Jonathan Maicelo so hard with a left his win was celebrated as a knockout of the year candidate. The same night, on Showtime, Gary Russell Jr. retained his WBC featherweight title with a knockout of Oscar Escandon and super featherweight Gervonta Davis, who Mayweather has tabbed as the future of boxing, knocked out Liam Walsh.

That packed weekend followed Anthony Joshua’s epic bout with Wladimir Klitschko in late April. Theirs was the best heavyweight clash in years. Both fighters were knocked down. Joshua looked gassed. And then he rallied to stop Klitschko and perhaps end a Hall of Fame career. “Boxing is getting back to where it’s supposed to be,” Spence says. “The top guys are fighting each other. Everybody is trying to unify. I’m trying to unify. It feels like the old days. Like how boxing used to be.”

I asked him why that changed. He cited politics, beefs between promoters (he didn’t say this but many involved his manager, Al Haymon), a sport that never died (despite a few thousand pronouncements) but undoubtedly slipped from the mainstream sports consciousness. This year, Spence says, feels different, from the events of the past month to what’s upcoming, including his bout with Brook.

There are intriguing divisions. Like at welterweight, with Spence, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, Broner and potentially Crawford, Pacquiao and Mayweather in the mix. GGG will meet Alvarez in the biggest fight that can be made right now in boxing in September. Joshua may square off against the American boxer Deontay Wilder in the kind of heavyweight clash the sport requires for mainstream success. Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev will rematch their close, excellent fight from last fall (Ward won) in June. Vasyl Lomachenko, whose promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank Boxing, has described him as the best prospect he’s had since Ali, could even tango with Mikey Garcia, if Lomachenko moves up in weight, which would be another mega-fight. “You’re looking at a hotbed right now,” Spence says. “I hope it feels like the 80s, when it’s Sugar Ray Leonard and (Marvin) Hagler and (Thomas) Hearns.”

Modern boxing may never again approach that level. It may never resemble the days of Ali, or Leonard/Hagler/Hearns, or even Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. That’s OK. What matters is Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, Lomachenko, Crawford, Porter and both Mikey and Danny Garcia are 29, Thurman is 28, Spence, Joshua and Broner are 27, and Alvarez is 26. There’s a window there and it’s not small, as long as match-ups like these continue to be made.

For the last decade or so, Mayweather and Pacquiao defined boxing, with what they did (exhibit legendary brilliance) and what they didn’t do (fight each other until it was far too late). As the sport enters its next era, as it grows across Europe and in Mexico, as the best fighters actually fight the best opponents, perhaps we can finally dispense with all this boxing-is-dead nonsense. The sport has been defibrillated. What boxing fans see now is what’s next and what’s next brims with possibility.

Boxing is dead? Not hardly, and the coming months will be proof

Maybe you loved boxing in the 1960s, 70s, ‘80s or 90s, from Muhammad Ali to Mike Tyson, with the golden age of welterweights sandwiched in between. Maybe you got sick of all the sanctioning bodies, the alphabet soup of title belts, the unwatchable match-ups, the stars who cared more about their record than the product, the greedy promoters, the mainstream media that lost interest, the heavyweights who turned to football or the $70 you had to plunk down for garbage on Pay-Pay-View. (Even as recently as this month, when Canelo Alvarez throttled Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in what was less of a bout and more of an announcement for Alvarez’s next fight.) This was #boxing more or less.

I get it. When I tell people in sports who don’t watch boxing–or who once watched boxing–that it’s my favorite sport to cover, they always ask the same question.

Why?

That’s easy. It’s not the access, although the access is great, consistently at a level far beyond what’s possible in other sports. It’s not the clicks, either, because there aren’t as many as there used to be. And it’s definitely not the feedback, which usually consists of people in boxing lamenting how great the coverage at Sports Illustrated used to be. (For the record, I agree with that. SI covered boxing over the years as well as any single outlet covered anything. It’s a major reason I went into sports journalism.)

No, boxing is the best sport to cover because of the stories. Because every fighter has one and because every major bout takes the backgrounds of those boxers and some manufactured animosity and more hype than is healthy and creates these major events that feel like Super Bowls and unfold like professional wrestling storylines, except the fights in the ring are real. There’s nothing like that in sports.

Which brings me to 2017 and the state of modern boxing, a sport that is as healthy and as promising and as intriguing as it has been in quite a while, since at least Manny Pacquiao entered his prime in 2008 or so and the world of sports clamored for him to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Buyer beware, it turned out.) If you loved boxing before, you might want to pay attention for the next seven months. Or at least give the sport another chance.

Start with Saturday. That’s when touted welterweight prospect Errol Spence Jr., he of the 21-0 record and 18 pro knockouts, meets Kell Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) in Sheffield, England, for the IBF welterweight title on Showtime. Brook’s only loss came against Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, arguably the top pound-for-pound boxer in the world.

I agree with those who see Spence as one of boxing’s stars-in-waiting, a potential heir to the Mayweather throne. He’s rangy and strong, moves with precision, is rarely off balance and utilizes a style he describes as “passive aggressive,” meaning he’ll knock out an opponent if it’s there, but he’s also fine with countering and moving. It’s that combination of skills that birthed the legends of his sparring sessions, when he stopped a world champion (and world champion knucklehead) in Adrien Broner (confirmed) and blackened Mayweather’s eye (even Spence won’t cop to that one).

This a step-up fight for Spence, against an elite boxer, in Brook’s hometown. Spence answered the phone there on Wednesday morning, and we spent most of 15 minutes discussing not boxing’s future, as has been the norm since Mayweather and Pacquiao retired (and unretired, for Pacquiao; and said they would unretire, with Mayweather), but it’s present.

Spence is not just a boxer. He loves to watch boxing. Last weekend, he saw junior welterweight Terence Crawford, an elite, top-five P4P champion, stop Felix Diaz on HBO to improve to 31-0. On that undercard, Ray Beltran hit Jonathan Maicelo so hard with a left his win was celebrated as a knockout of the year candidate. The same night, on Showtime, Gary Russell Jr. retained his WBC featherweight title with a knockout of Oscar Escandon and super featherweight Gervonta Davis, who Mayweather has tabbed as the future of boxing, knocked out Liam Walsh.

That packed weekend followed Anthony Joshua’s epic bout with Wladimir Klitschko in late April. Theirs was the best heavyweight clash in years. Both fighters were knocked down. Joshua looked gassed. And then he rallied to stop Klitschko and perhaps end a Hall of Fame career. “Boxing is getting back to where it’s supposed to be,” Spence says. “The top guys are fighting each other. Everybody is trying to unify. I’m trying to unify. It feels like the old days. Like how boxing used to be.”

I asked him why that changed. He cited politics, beefs between promoters (he didn’t say this but many involved his manager, Al Haymon), a sport that never died (despite a few thousand pronouncements) but undoubtedly slipped from the mainstream sports consciousness. This year, Spence says, feels different, from the events of the past month to what’s upcoming, including his bout with Brook.

There are intriguing divisions. Like at welterweight, with Spence, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, Broner and potentially Crawford, Pacquiao and Mayweather in the mix. GGG will meet Alvarez in the biggest fight that can be made right now in boxing in September. Joshua may square off against the American boxer Deontay Wilder in the kind of heavyweight clash the sport requires for mainstream success. Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev will rematch their close, excellent fight from last fall (Ward won) in June. Vasyl Lomachenko, whose promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank Boxing, has described him as the best prospect he’s had since Ali, could even tango with Mikey Garcia, if Lomachenko moves up in weight, which would be another mega-fight. “You’re looking at a hotbed right now,” Spence says. “I hope it feels like the 80s, when it’s Sugar Ray Leonard and (Marvin) Hagler and (Thomas) Hearns.”

Modern boxing may never again approach that level. It may never resemble the days of Ali, or Leonard/Hagler/Hearns, or even Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. That’s OK. What matters is Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, Lomachenko, Crawford, Porter and both Mikey and Danny Garcia are 29, Thurman is 28, Spence, Joshua and Broner are 27, and Alvarez is 26. There’s a window there and it’s not small, as long as match-ups like these continue to be made.

For the last decade or so, Mayweather and Pacquiao defined boxing, with what they did (exhibit legendary brilliance) and what they didn’t do (fight each other until it was far too late). As the sport enters its next era, as it grows across Europe and in Mexico, as the best fighters actually fight the best opponents, perhaps we can finally dispense with all this boxing-is-dead nonsense. The sport has been defibrillated. What boxing fans see now is what’s next and what’s next brims with possibility.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. robbed by group of women after night of partying

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. robbed by group of women after night of partying

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. robbed by group of women after night of partying

Mexican boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. had a rough night in Las Vegas after his recent title fight.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. robbed by group of women after night of partying

Mexican boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. had a rough night in Las Vegas after his recent title fight.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. robbed by group of women after night of partying

Mexican boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. had a rough night in Las Vegas after his recent title fight.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. robbed by group of women after night of partying

Mexican boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. had a rough night in Las Vegas after his recent title fight.

Canelo Alvarez hits a PPV home run; bout with Chavez Jr. may hit 1 million

Canelo Alvarez has a chance to hit 1 million pay-per-view sales for his fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.